In a significant development for cross-border trade between Nepal and India, the Bathnaha-Biratnagar freight train service was inaugurated on Thursday. The service was jointly launched by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. This new freight train service is expected to significantly boost trade and reduce costs for industries in the region.
The Inauguration and First Journey
The inauguration ceremony was held virtually from the ceremonial Hyderabad House in New Delhi. Following the inauguration, a cargo rail carrying industrial raw materials made its maiden journey from Bathnaha in India to the customs yard in Biratnagar, Morang district, Nepal. The journey, which covered an eight-kilometre route, was completed in just 13 minutes.
The Impact on Industries
The freight train service is a much-awaited development for industrialists in the Koshi Province. With the completion of the railway yard at the Integrated Check Post, Biratnagar, there had been a growing demand for the operation of the freight service on the railway line. The service is expected to significantly reduce the costs of importing raw materials and exporting finished goods, thereby making it easier for industries to compete in the market.
The Future of the Railway Line
The construction of the 18.6 km long cross-border broad-gauge railway line connecting Katahari, Morang with Bathnaha, India, which began in 2011, is yet to be completed. Once completed, both passenger and freight trains are expected to run on the railway track. The Department of Railways has assured that the passenger train will also be brought into operations soon.
Challenges and Expectations
Despite the progress, the project has faced challenges, particularly regarding land compensation. Disputes over the amount fixed by the Compensation Determination Committee of the government have led to delays in the completion of the project. However, the inauguration of the freight train service marks a significant step forward, and it is hoped that the remaining issues will be resolved soon.
The Bathnaha-Biratnagar freight train service marks a new era of cross-border trade between Nepal and India. It is a testament to the potential of regional cooperation in boosting economic growth and development. As the service begins its operations, it brings with it the promise of increased trade, reduced costs for industries, and a strengthened bilateral relationship between the two countries.